AN OTLEY GP practice has become the new base for the town's Citizens Advice services.

Leeds Citizens Advice closed its office at Otley Courthouse in March - effectively also ending the volunteer-led, drop-in sessions that had been available there.

The organisation has insisted since first announcing the closure, however, that it would continue to provide money and pensions advice in the town.

That has now been confirmed with the news that Westgate Surgery is, from Thursday, April 12, to host those services on a weekly basis.

Pension Wise Guider at Citizens Advice Leeds, Philomena Daly, said: "We are thrilled that from this Thursday Otley’s Westgate Surgery will host weekly sessions for our Pension Wise service."

Money advice appointments, to help residents deal with personal debt issues including rent and mortgage arrears and utility bills, will also be available at the Westgate practice.

Lead GP at Westgate Surgery, Dr Dave Kirby, said he was delighted the business - part of the family-owned OneMedicalGroup - had been able to assist.

He said: "I think I speak on behalf of the whole surgery when I say we’re really pleased that we could offer our help in providing a venue for the Citizens Advice Leeds.

"We are always thrilled to support the Otley community."

Otley Town Council had offered Leeds Citizens Advice free use of part of its Otley Core base, on Orchard Gate, earlier this year as a possible solution.

Chair Councillor Ray Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield) said: "I'm delighted to hear that Citizens Advice have established their new base in Otley.

"The closure of the previous service was the decision of Leeds Citizens Advice themselves and I'll remind the Otley community that, having supported the Otley service for several years, the town council restated its commitment to continuing a service and offered free accommodation in our offices - which was declined.

"That said, I wish them well in their new home and am pleased Otley residents can still access vital support with money and pension advice."

MP Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) added: "Although it is heartening that Citizens Advice services won't completely disappear from Otley, this doesn't adequately replace the level of service previously available at the Courthouse.

"I will continue to strive for a continuation of the level of service people in Otley and Wharfedale are accustomed too."

*Pension Wise is a free service, offered to people aged 50 or over, who have defined contribution pension pots - appointments can be arranged by visiting or calling 0800 138 3944.